By Don Richards, NBC12 Vice President and General Manager
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Memorial Day holiday weekend marks the unofficial start of our swimming season in Virginia. We had good weather and our news showed adults and kids enjoying themselves in swimming pools and in the James River. The water level in the James was just above the 5 foot level, which by law requires swimmers to wear safety vests. Most people were unaware of that fact.
In the past dozen years there have been over 1,000 drowning accidents in Virginia. The vast majority of victims - 8 in 10 are male. The highest drowning rate occurred in rivers and lakes but for our youngest children swimming pools are the most dangerous.
The Richmond Red Cross offers swimming instruction and water safety presentations for children and adults. Classes also include general water safety, home pool safety and parent orientation to swim lessons. There are classes for basic water rescue and even lifeguard training is available through Red Cross providers. You can arrange for a group water safety presentation to your youth organization.
The point is -- proper training and respect for the water is imperative for children and adults who spend time in and around Virginia's pools, rivers and lakes. For more information on the Red Cross aquatic safety classes go to their web site at greaterrichmond.redcross.org.